The realization that resources for health care are finite together with the increasing expense of medical care has focused attention on the cost-efficiency of medical interventions. The increasing complexity and apparent high cost of treatment for head and neck cancer has made the cost efficiency of interventions in this field an issue in recent years. In this review, the fundamental elements of a sound cost analysis study are discussed and recent cost studies in head and neck cancer are examined. One goal of this paper is to foster interest in and better understanding of health care-related cost analyses among otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons. We need to understand the fundamentals of these studies in order to evaluate the conclusions drawn from them.